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Thread: [ePub] Open Road Integrated Media, LLC

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW Angkor's Avatar
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    [ePub] Open Road Integrated Media, LLC

    HarperCollins ex-CEO, Jane Friedman, has launched a new model "publishing-marketing" company called, "Open Road Integrated Media, LLC" (see links below). This new outfit (acronym: ORIM) plans to start out by e-publishing up to a thousand mostly backlist titles in 2010. It also plans to e-publish an initially limited number of debut authors.

    Its model works something like the following: ORIM e-publishes author XYZ's book, accompanied (unlike traditional publishers) by a vigorous online promotional/marketing campaign. Author XYZ receives no advance, but does receive a bigger cut of earnings revenue. If XYZ's book sells very well, then ORIM may publish print copies via either print-on-demand or outsourcing to traditional publishers like Kensington or Grove Press. The gestation period from rights purchase to publication would be cut drastically. Ideally, ORIM also hopes to do away with remaindering -- in other words, bookstores would be stuck with their unsold paper copies. The whole thrust is to eliminate the gross inefficiencies of today's antiquated and wasteful publishing model.

    ORIM has an in-house film/tv production unit as well which plans to cull the house's book releases for potential film/tv production.

    Finally, ORIM has a POD division to compete with the many other POD companies out there.

    Friedman and ORIM's co-founder, Jeffrey Sharp, are banking on getting ahead of the curve of a coming radical restructuring of the publishing industry which centers on an increasing transition to cheaper e-books sold through Kindle, Nook and the like. They're starting out with $3 million in seed money from a NYC venture capital firm.

    Authors and agents need to watch this development closely and decide whether going the ORIM-style route to publishing makes sense for them. Reactions from Forum participants would be welcome. What do you think? Wave of the future? or Crapshoot? Good for authors & agents, or not?

    http://www.openroadmedia.com/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/bo...ried.html?_r=5
    Last edited by Angkor; 12-12-2009 at 09:42 PM.

  2. #2
    No drama KMTolan's Avatar
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    If the model is as described, then the only difference provided between it and many current established e-publishers is that the printed books would (I assume) appear in actual bookstores.

    This is a plus for authors if indeed this is the model - the greatest limitation of being with any e-publisher is that you are shut out of the remaining chain stores. Of course, if the small press runs end up being kept out as well, then the model is little different than what is being done today.

    That said, there is a real problem here that would keep me from giving these guys the thumbs-up:

    In addition, ORIM plans to launch a premium self-publishing program called Discovery.
    This pretty much soils their nest, so to speak. If someone wants to know why New York publishing has degraded, it is because the corporate minds behind the few remaining houses have about as much ethics as those on Wall Street. They would soak wanna-be writers with a BS promise of legitimacy.

    I would advise folks to stay well clear of this bunch until this gets sorted out.

    Kerry
    Last edited by KMTolan; 12-12-2009 at 10:00 PM.

  3. #3
    Bemused Girl nkkingston's Avatar
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    Its model works something like the following: ORIM e-publishes author XYZ's book, accompanied (unlike traditional publishers) by a vigorous online promotional/marketing campaign.
    But surely normaly for a decent sized ePub. I'm used to seeing advertising on genre blogs, ARCs sent to reviewers, glossy websites and exposure on the big eTailers like Amazon, Fictionwise and BooksonBoard from people like Samhain and Ellora's Cave. What else are Open Road planning to do?

    Author XYZ receives no advance, but does receive a bigger cut of earnings revenue.
    30-40% is normal for a no-advance ePub, ideally gross, rather than net. How much are Open Road planning to pay?

    If XYZ's book sells very well, then ORIM may publish print copies via either print-on-demand or outsourcing to traditional publishers like Kensington or Grove Press. The gestation period from rights purchase to publication would be cut drastically. Ideally, ORIM also hopes to do away with remaindering -- in other words, bookstores would be stuck with their unsold paper copies. The whole thrust is to eliminate the gross inefficiencies of today's antiquated and wasteful publishing model.
    Ellora's Cave novels used to appear in Borders, before they fell out and Borders UK went bust - they're not the only POD ePub novels I've seen, either, but they're the only one I can remember right now. I think POD is a great model for middle of the road books and popular eBooks - no complaints or questions here!

    I assume, despite the blurb, Open Road are aware they're not offering anything incredibly innovative by way of ePubbing at the moment - the business model looks pretty standard. They have a perfectly solid and well-established business model, backed by people with a good background in (dead tree) publishing and good money. I want to know what's in the contracts and what kind of royalties they're offering, though. What rights do they buy as a matter of course? Are royalties net or gross? How long do they want the rights for?

    I'm concerned the Discoveries line was not mentioned amongst everything else here. I'd like to know more about that - how will it be advertised, who to, what promotion it will get, whether Discovery books will be sold along side Open Road... all the same questions everyone's asking Harlequin Enterprises about Dellarte, basically.

    It's obviously early days at the moment, but more information would be appreciated.

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  4. #4
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nkkingston View Post
    they're not the only POD ePub novels I've seen, either, but they're the only one I can remember right now. I think POD is a great model for middle of the road books and popular eBooks - no complaints or questions here!
    Um, how can you have POD e-books? POD means 'print on demand', where the book isn't printed until someone orders it. An e-book is an electronic file that can be downloaded over and over and over; you don't create more copies. Am I missing something here?
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  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW Angkor's Avatar
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    NKKingston raises some good questions (among others) which Open Road's executives will need to clarify.

    By coincidence, todays' NY Times carries a front page article on this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/13/bu...ef=todayspaper

  6. #6
    No drama KMTolan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terie View Post
    Um, how can you have POD e-books? POD means 'print on demand', where the book isn't printed until someone orders it. An e-book is an electronic file that can be downloaded over and over and over; you don't create more copies. Am I missing something here?
    They go together. If a publisher puts out an e-book, they can also provide a printed trade copy for those who are not interested in the electronic version. The only difference between this and the old style presses is that the indie doesn't have the expense of print runs or returns in most cases.

    Kerry

  7. #7
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KMTolan View Post
    They go together. If a publisher puts out an e-book, they can also provide a printed trade copy for those who are not interested in the electronic version.
    Ah, okay. I get it now. Thanks.
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    Bemused Girl nkkingston's Avatar
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    Um, how can you have POD e-books?
    Sorry, I knew I was being a bit vague when I posted that but I couldn't think of a better way to phrase it offhand; I just wanted to convey the difference between POD books produced by ePublishers and POD books produced by small presses. ePubbed PODs usually have a pretty good sales history before they're considered for printing (depending on the publisher), whereas in print publishers it's usually the eBook that's the afterthought.

    ETA: The NYTimes article is really interesting reading, outside of ORIM. Love to see a big, chewy legal case on the subject at some point, because otherwise that's a lot of eBook rights tied up tightly that people didn't even know they'd sold.
    Last edited by nkkingston; 12-14-2009 at 07:21 PM.

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  9. #9
    Bemused Girl nkkingston's Avatar
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    Another article about ORIM, courtesy of the bookseller.

    The "cake" will also include "publisher partnership niches" – Open Road working with houses like Kensington and Grove Atlantic – and "e-riginals" – that will include a "curated" self-publishing element (although right now, self-publishing is "our least well-thought-out component," Friedman allowed).
    Hmmmm. I wonder if they've noted the potential for a backlash? What on earth does "curated" mean in this context?

    I'm also a little surprised that they're focusing on selling predominantly through distributors, considering the size of the cut most of them take. 50% royalties, but it's not clear from the article if that's net or gross. I'm also surprised at how few original eBooks they're producing a year; they're really hoping to capitalise on that backlist. If Random House will let them have it.

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  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW Angkor's Avatar
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    Another thing that bothers me about this e-book "business model" is that, if an author goes this route and his/her book is published only digitally initially, s/he will have no physical copies to use in author promotions -- signings and the like. If the answer to this is for the author to order up a bunch of price-noncompetitive POD editions, why not then just self-publish and do your own publicity, therefore cutting out agent commission and some publishers costs?

  11. #11
    Bemused Girl nkkingston's Avatar
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    if an author goes this route and his/her book is published only digitally initially, s/he will have no physical copies to use in author promotions -- signings and the like.
    ePublished authors don't tend to do brick-and-mortar signings. Online promotion is a different beast; blog tours, social networking, competitions, review blogs, interviews, free short stories etc. A lot of your readers aren't even on the same continent as you. If all your sales are online, then trying to sell books face to face is counterproductive; either you're giving the reader extra work in going home and looking up the link or you're offering them something more expensive (both to you and them) in place of the main product you're meant to be pushing. Book signings work for dead tree books because it raises the local profile and the bookshop will hopefully keep your books in stock - people will see posters for the event, or hear from people who went, or simply see the book lying around the store, and pick it up. For an eBook, even if you did arrange a signing the shop wouldn't have any stock left after you went - you'd just be a faint blip on the local radar.

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  12. #12
    No drama KMTolan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angkor View Post
    Another thing that bothers me about this e-book "business model" is that, if an author goes this route and his/her book is published only digitally initially, s/he will have no physical copies to use in author promotions -- signings and the like. If the answer to this is for the author to order up a bunch of price-noncompetitive POD editions, why not then just self-publish and do your own publicity, therefore cutting out agent commission and some publishers costs?
    Just an add on to this, from my perspective. Yes, I have to order POD books for promotional purposes - an option anyone has who wants the book in paper. I do, however, get a discount - on average my last purchase was $10.56 a book. I am not sure self-pubbers can get the same deal as what my publisher leverages, and they probably have to purchase in larger quantities.

    In my case, I attend SF conventions and sell there - not for profit as much as for wider exposure. If I am lucky, I break even. My primary sales remain electronic.

    Why not self-publish? Simple - because in most of the genre markets you won't sell anything 99% of the time. Readers want the added assurance that only a known publisher brings. For all but a few, self publication is a poor business model.

    Hope that helps.

    Kerry

  13. #13
    Got the hang of it, here valeriec80's Avatar
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    $10.65 a book??? To you??? How many pages are in this thing, 900? A self-publishing outfit like Createspace will sell you your own book for about $5 if you spring for the pro plan, which pays for itself after you've sold about seven books.

    A self-pubber of fiction, I will echo your sentiments that I don't sell many books. But I'm not sure if it's because readers want assurance from a known publisher, or because I haven't got the dough to really market myself.

    Still, you might think about finding some cheaper way to get those POD books.

    EDIT: On second thought, I forgot to ask if they're paperback or hardback. For hardback POD, 10.65 is a good deal indeed.
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    Intense number play in that article, but I wager most of those numbers are completely inaccurate.

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    Open Road Media

    Just came across this. They seem to be publishing services for self publishers. I'll say the only reason I noticed them was because they have a book among the best sellers for a sub category on Amazon, so maybe they have some skill at what they do? Never heard of them before though and they don't seem to have a thread here. http://www.openroadmedia.com/
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  17. #17
    Three of a perfect pair. AW Moderator amergina's Avatar
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    The thread is here:

    <snipped>

    It's fairly old though.

    (There's an index of threads stickied to the top of the forum.)
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